redveil proves itself as a natural performer at NextNOW Fest

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On Saturday night, the courtyard of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center was filled with fog, lights, bass and drums – sights and sounds from most concerts. But it was different. An energy floated in the air, something fresh and exciting, as if everyone in the crowd shared the same unspoken secret.

On stage, the source of that energy leapt up and ran from side to side, all eyes on him. The underground rapper redveil and his scorching rap completely captured the devotion of the crowd. We might not know every word of every song, but we were more than happy to revel in it.

The young Prince George County native made it clear how special this performance was for him. He was on stage, on his own pitch, with his team behind him and his own loyal crowd in front of him. At only 17 years old, redveil’s confidence on stage was inspiring and his personality made the small venue feel like a stadium.

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redveil is performing on the Clarice Courtyard at NextNow Fest on September 18, 2021 (Autumn Hengen / The Diamondback)

Even after the show, this feeling was echoed by members of the crowd as they stepped inside. We have witnessed something truly never seen before. The concert was free as part of The Clarice’s NextNOW Fest, although I would have happily paid a ticket to see this show.

The unique brand of redveil rap delivered includes a largely self-produced collection of sample-rich instrumentals, with crisp bass and drums. On top of that, it deposits lyrically dense verses with a characteristic flow and melodic hooks.

Comparisons could be made with other underground rappers Earl Sweatshirt and MAVI, but as redveil continues to release new music, he defines his sound as a class of its own.

redveil is performing on the Clarice Courtyard at NextNow Fest on September 18, 2021 (Autumn Hengen / The Diamondback)

Although he only performed a 45-minute show, redveil made the most of his time. He performed several songs, including the raucous hit “Brother’s Keeper” in which the rapper delivered a relentless flow on an equally invigorating rhythm. He was rapping so fast and with such vigor that he needed to catch his breath before the next track.

He also brought on stage his frequent collaborator and singer D’mari Harris, and together they performed “Drown” and “Run It Back”, the latter being one of my personal favorites. With a simple melody and chorus, thoughtful lyrics and a light tone, they strike a difficult balance. Nevertheless, the two artists manage to find beauty in minimalism.

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Also on stage, members of the redveil team, his friends who came to help him. Behind him, his hype man lined up on the runways and spurred the crowd on, eliciting some of the biggest reactions from fans. He took the time to shout out to each member of the crew, giving his love and thanks. They returned the favor by congratulating and supporting their gifted friend which was a special moment.

Students are cheering for redveil on September 18, 2021. redveil is performing on Clarice Court at NextNow Fest on September 18, 2021. (Autumn Hengen / The Diamondback)

There were a few hiccups throughout the show, but they were all skillfully handled by redveil and his team. During one of his most popular songs, the wake-up microphone began to come in. Once he realized the problem, he quickly traded with one of the other mic stands and his voice came back through the speakers to applause and cheers.

After finishing her last song, which featured a miniature mosh pit as the beat dropped, the crowd screamed for an encore. After reviewing his team for approval, redveil prepared to perform one more track, a new song that hasn’t even been released yet. Technical difficulties prevented the song from playing. The crowd dispersed, only disappointed that the concert was not longer.

Dripping with talent and potential, redveil’s first solo performance was overdone, with 45 minutes of energy and exuberance as deep as it gets. With hints of grandeur already visible, time and practice will ease the discomfort and could make this DMV rapper a truly exhilarating live artist. I will definitely take a wake-up call in the future and you would be remiss not to follow suit.

redveil is performing on the Clarice Courtyard at NextNow Fest on September 18, 2021 (Autumn Hengen / The Diamondback)


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